Welcome to the AEW Dynamite Roundtable, where Pro Wrestling Musings' contributors share their thoughts on the biggest talking points arising from AEW Dynamite. Please note writer's views are their own.
This week's contributors are:
- Gareth Ford-Elliot: @RHWGareth [GFE]
- Ryan Gorneault: @RyanGorneault [RG]
- Sergei Alderman: @SergeiAlderman [SA]
- Anthony Bennett: @AnthonyDownUnda [AB]
- Joe Cabana: @JoeProWrestling [JC]
1) ‘Hangman’ Adam Page defeated Ricky Starks to further solidify his position as No. 1 Contender. However, it appears he’ll be preoccupied with Team Taz for the time being after a post-match attack. How does this factor into his rise to challenging Omega as well as Christian Cage’s feud with Team Taz?
[JC] I wouldn’t be surprised if The Hangman and Christian Cage wind up tagging together against Team Taz, before their number one contender match somewhere down the road. I’ve said it before, I do not think Adam Page even wants a title match right now, but that’s a different article for a different time. My guess, is after they are both done with Team Taz, Christian Cage will be face to face with Omega, not Adam Page. Not yet.
[AB] For me this was very interesting, with everyone expecting Hangman to face Kenny at All Out which is in September, why not have Starks win and go face Kenny at DON which is not that far away? This does give Hangman something to do but if the direction is to give him the belt Kenny needs something to do at DON and not having your number 1 guy as that challenger really effects the rankings system they have. Team Taz now have a lot of big losses and I think it’s damaging to their team. When was their last big dynamite win?
[SA] I won’t belabour too much the points I agree with my fellow panellists on: Yes, Hangman ducking talking about being in the top of the rankings probably indicates something about his mindset. But Team Taz does not “need” a win, losing is the point of the story they’re telling right now. Team Taz has always been less than the sum of its parts and the time had come for them to fall apart because of it.
All three of the competitors in Team Taz are natural leaders and stars and future world title contenders. They can’t look to each other for support to reach a throne all three of them want to sit on. Team Taz was always destined to fall apart, and now is the time. Getting a win would just be delaying the inevitable.
2) What did you think of Penta el Zero M, alongside Alex Abrahantes, playing a heelish role against Trent a week after AEW made every attempt to babyface Rey Fenix last week? Do you see a split on the horizon for Death Triangle or just differences within what is a tweener stable?
[SA] Instead of wondering "who's the face?" ask if characters are acting consistently. The characters act consistent with themselves, not some arbitrary alignment. Everyone in Death Triangle will do their best to beat down anybody who steps to them. They owe the Bucks a receipt for the disgusting disrespect of ripping off Fenix’s mask, and they’ll be cheered for it. Meanwhile, the Best Friends owe them receipts for all of their unprovoked attacks, and they’ll take on the antagonist role in those interactions.
[JC] There are a few wrestlers in AEW that you don’t really know what to expect from week to week, and I’m sure there will be many who feel the famous fan Mr. Casual won’t be able to live with it. Personally, as an existing and real person I have to say I don’t mind it. People don’t have to be 100% good or 100% bad in wrestling, personal vendettas and real characters who don’t feel like they’re straight out of a script, makes the show more intriguing to me. I think AEW are more than capable of booking a trio of friends/brothers who love and will do anything for each other, but also have their own individual thoughts and character traits, both good and bad.
3) The Pinnacle and Inner Circle exchanged promos as they continue to build to Blood & Guts in two weeks. Who won this exchange?
[AB] Jericho's promo was bad, MJF gives this great very passionate promo, and he says it sounded like it was written for him. This promo battle was very one sided. Pinnacle really need to win Blood and Gut’s but I'm really worried they will give it to Inner Circle. Jericho is not a believable baby face and his still done nothing to sell me on that.
[JC] MJF and Wardlow won this exchange quite easily, the general public (People on Facebook and Twitter) seem to love Chris Jericho’s babyface work, personally I don’t think he’s been at his best here these last few weeks.
[GFE] I agree with Joe's assessment above and it seems like those people on social media are starting to see Jericho's babyface work is... not the best, so far.
I may have been in the minority, albeit a large minority, a couple of weeks ago in criticising Chris Jericho's promo, but this one was definitely not great. The hypocrisy of Jericho to criticise MJF for lacking conviction, reciting scripted lines and lacking emotion whilst he does all of those things in the same promo is something one might get away with as a heel. But as a babyface Jericho is falling short.
It's a good thing Santana was out there to provide some nuance and emotion as well as (I never thought I'd say this) Jake Hager with some comedy. But Santana stole the show for me. If you talk about conviction and emotion, Santana always smashes it out the park. The best thing is he doesn't need five minutes to speak, he did everything Jericho needed to in one.
So, whilst Santana's promo is my personal favourite, The Pinnacle have to take this due to Jericho's rambling and hypocrisy. And Twitter appears to agree with me this week.
4) How will AEW leave us next week in the go-home show to Blood & Guts with The Inner Circle’s ‘Parley’ announced?
[GFE] This is likely where Jericho actually thrives as he works much better speaking face-to-face than he does to camera, in my humble opinion.
As for how AEW leave us it's impossible to guess specifics but I think Inner Circle get the upper hand leading into Blood & Guts. People worried about The Pinnacle's "heat" only need to wait until they win Blood & Guts. They'll be fine. Inner Circle get one final day in the Sun.
I, for one, am hoping that the 'parley' terminology leads to a continuation of pirate language with an Inner Circle 'mutiny'. I want to see the end of this faction. They offer little purpose moving forward beyond Blood & Guts. Disbanding would work wonders for Sammy Guevara, Santana and Ortiz who haven't benefited from this faction in quite some time. They feel like the biggest underutilisation of talent in AEW at present.
[AB] More promos and Rules being explained for the event. I find it interesting they announced it as a one match event, I’m not sure how it will all work but I trust AEW to show us something great. I’m just hoping Tyson doesn’t get involved any more then he has. [JC] There’s no violence allowed in a “Parley”, if I know my Pirates of the Caribbean history as well as I think I do, so I’m unsure if this will end the show or not. However, if someone were to get physical, that could play into who goes into the match with the advantage, something they haven’t told us yet. I’m excited for the one match event, I think it will be treated like a fight night, promos, interviews and hype packages opening the show, until the match finally starts. It’s ballsy, but I love that.
[SA] Chris Jericho would have to be a great fool if he expects the Pinnacle to adhere to the Parley rules of no violence. But Chris Jericho is NOT a great fool, and yet he is walking into an obvious trap, so he must have a plan for turning the trap against Mr. Friedman. But the last time Chris Jericho had a plan for MJF’s obvious trap, MJF had a plan for Jericho’s plan. We shall see who has sufficient counterplans this time.
5) How good was Tay Conti vs Hikaru Shida? In the aftermath of the match Britt Baker put Shida on notice. How do you see the build for that title match?
[AB] This women’s division is fantastic, while they still have stuff needing to be addressed you can see the talent and the future of this division. This was a fantastic match and Britt must be the next champion. I find it great that the women's division story is all about the rankings and getting to that number One spot. Tay will be a champion at AEW just not tonight. Last year she was released and now she’s one of the best women's wrestlers just shows the amazing effort she has put in. [JC] For me it was the match of the night, Tay’s character continues to evolve and grow organically and naturally, and Shida with her fighting spirit, even let her nasty competitive side come out to play, and it made for a truly great match up. They had really good chemistry together, I’d love to see them fight again, or even team up again, it appears that AEW are setting up for a women’s tag team division on the two DARK shows, Shida and Tay would be a great pairing, and there’s a great story there for when Anna Jay returns. Should that happen, you’ll know that Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D has won the world title, something I think we’re going to see. The build for the title match will consist of Dr. Britt’s loud mouth and Shida’s kendo stick, and if it’s more than that, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
[GFE] Shida vs Conti was an excellent title match and my personal match of the night. Conti sold brilliantly for Shida's brutal offence. The nuances at play with both women's background in Judo and Conti getting the upper hand in that regard will be lost on most, but not me! A great way to continue shining a light on Conti's unique offence whilst keeping her on the climb. When she eventually wins the world title it'll feel earned because of matches like this.
As for Baker vs Shida we have five weeks of TV before Double or Nothing so it would appear we've got a reasonable build for this match. It is clear that Baker's strength is promos so hopefully Shida gets what AEW have continuously failed to give her. A proper build to a title match.
[SA] Shida vs Conti was a magnificent match. But it was also the best rated quarter by a fair margin. It’s time for the women’s division to get two matches on Dynamite consistently, and the main event slot pretty regularly.
6) QT Marshall vs Billy Gunn existed to further the Nightmare Family vs The Factory feud. How effective did you find this match and the shenanigans afterwards?
[RG] I had no problem with the match itself because it was an effective tool to get The Factory over and make them look like total bosses, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t initially confused as to why Billy Gunn of all people fought QT Marshall of all people. I almost felt as if this would have been a lot more effective had someone else in The Factory gained a win over someone more capable in the ring from The Nightmare Family.
Then, I realized in many ways that this feud can be compared to the discussions about who should have been AEW’s first champion. Just like it made sense to make Chris Jericho champion in order to let the less established talents build up over time, it makes sense for the (comparatively) more established QT Marshall to fight someone fairly well known in the industry, all while the younger talent look build up. Of course, the match itself was not great, but the members of The Factory still came out looking strong, especially Nick Comoroto. All they need to do is further establish Aaron Solow and they’ll be set.
[GFE] As a match it was very meh and seemed more functional than something to capture the imagination. Billy Gunn being used seems to me to be an attempt to attract a few of the more casual viewers on a night where the youth dominated the card.
But if this moves us closer to Dustin vs Nick Comoroto and Dustin vs QT Marshall as it hinted at then I'm very happy. Anthony Ogogo was also put over huge again as his punch changed the tide of the match for QT. Interesting that we still haven't seen Cody. This feud kinda feels like it needs him to get to that next level. I also want to see more for the likes of Lee Johnson than Billy Gunn. But all in good time.
7) Eddie Kingston and Jon Moxley returned with a bang into the side of The Elite’s trailer. What did you make of the segment and what do you want to see happening with this feud moving forward?
[RG] If Jon Moxley had not said, “Bitch AF,” this would have been the perfect segment. Moxley trying to be “hip” failed just because he’s already such a cool guy without actually trying, so as long as he just continues being himself, there shouldn’t be a problem. Eddie Kingston bleeds authenticity so there shouldn’t be a problem there either.
Overall, this segment solidified them as badasses (or possibly psychopaths) but either way, the segment was fun, and if Twitter is any indicator of the successes of a storyline, the IWC seems to be enjoying it too! Those two can switch from comedic to serious in the snap of a finger, or just completely blur the lines between those two moods, so it’ll be interesting to see how they toe the line between funny promos and dead serious brawling.
As for where they go from here, I would love to see them fight both The Good Brothers (again) and The Young Bucks. If The Good Brothers could win the title belts at Impact Rebellion, Kingston and Moxley feasibly have two options for a tag team title match. Depending on who they would choose to fight, and depending on if they could win (I would hope they could win), it could potentially cause just a little bit of a rift in the Don Callis Dream Team. Even if Kingston and Moxley do not win (which would be a big mistake), their match could still move that storyline forward a bit.
[AB] Give Eddie and Mox the tag belts at DON, I’m so into these guys and love seeing them on screen. Give me more please.
[SA] As vehicular mayhem segments go, this one had the advantage of Moxley and Kingston’s fantastic chemistry and swagger. The Dynamic Duo appear to be out for revenge on the Bucks, specifically. But they have exactly one tag win as a team, and I don’t think there’s time to build them as #1 contender. I can see them settling for non-title if they get to use plunder. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time the Bucks played with toys was the ladder match against the Lucha Bros over a year ago!
8) Do you think more of Powerhouse Hobbs after his match with Christian Cage? What did you make of the match overall? Who next for Christian Cage?
[RG] From a storyline perspective, it makes sense for Christian Cage to continue winning, and then to go on to fight for the belt. That being said, anybody with Powerhouse in their name should not be losing, especially in a little more than ten minutes against a 47-year-old having his fourth match since he was initially forced into retirement. I was okay with Cage beating Frankie Kazarian a while back because Kazarian could afford that loss. Hobbs probably can’t.
Cage’s story with Team Taz feels very much like a side-quest, which is all good, but there’s no insight as to what the main quest is supposed to be. Will Cage be gunning for Kenny Omega’s title as previously teased? Who knows? I sure don’t!
[JC] I can’t say I agree with my friend above me here, Powerhouse Hobbs losing here is not something that will affect his career one way or the other, it’s not his time. Just being in the ring with Christian Cage will have benefited him more than anything, I think the same for Ricky Starks. When it’s Hobbs’ time to get the rocket strapped to him, he will benefit from an experience like this on live television, I’m sure some nerves were involved on his side, and as I said, AEW will have no problem booking Hobbs as a monster when it’s his time to break out as a singles star. The match itself was, for me the third best match of the night. And there were five brilliant matches this week, I got to commend Christian Cage on his willingness to take a beating, once again here. And a side not, his hairstyle is perfect, I don’t think it’s a coincidence, CC is a brilliant worker, his hair makes it look like he has been to war after a match, it’s honestly brilliant. So, there you have my thoughts on Christian’s hair as well.
[AB] For me I didn’t like the booking of this match, the story was Hobbs man handling Cage, but him seeing that one chance and getting the win. A normal big guy vs small guy match has chop down spots or working the body to set up a finisher, I didn’t feel this match sold that and it felt very much like Cage was going power to power with him (Strike vs Strike) It just felt off. I’m interested in seeing the stats for this match, but for me it was a good match but bad story.
[GFE] I agree with Joe here. Hobbs can easily afford this loss as it isn’t his time. This was more about making an impression and he certainly did that. He was dominant and I disagree with Anthony above, I think this story worked *because* it wasn’t like other veteran vs powerhouse matches.
Hobbs’ dominance was great to watch and Christian got his licks in where he could. Our stats here at PWM show that the match was more even than it seemed and that is a credit to Christian’s psychology and Hobbs' presence to make it seem like there wasn’t.
[SA] If Hobbs wants to get back to his winning ways, he needs to lose some dead weight. I’m referring to Ricky Starks and Brian Cage, of course.
9) Did Jungle Boy vs Darby Allin deliver on your expectations?
[RG] Jungle Boy has always been a mediocre wrestler at worse to a good wrestler with seemingly unlimited potential at best. Everything seemed to click for him with his match against MJF at Double or Nothing 2020 though, and has been improving his game tremendously since. He’s been coming into his own as a singles and tag team competitor, improving with every match. Even his promo game has improved, which is great because that was one of the bigger missing pieces to his presentation. I do think he still has a little way to go in order to become a main-event level talent, but that obviously comes with time.
Even if he didn’t have the skills he has, or massive amounts of potential, he could probably still be a future world champion based off of the mainstream recognition being a part of the Perry family has. I just hope that him dropping the Jungle Boy name and reverting to Jack Perry in the future has the same effects that Mitsuharu Misawa removing the Tiger Mask had on his growth and popularity.
The match itself was excellently wrestled on his part, and is further proof that Jack has what it takes to be a top draw in the foreseeable future. It helps that the match ended in a roll-up, protecting him in the process.
So, TL;DR, yes, Jungle Boy delivered on my expectations, and I can’t wait to see where he goes from here.
[GFE] They delivered on my expectations for sure. It was always an intriguing match to book as both are two of the smaller babyfaces on the roster. There wasn’t an immediate dynamic to have many expectations for how this match would go, result aside. But in terms of the entertainment value, they certainly delivered.
10) What did you make of the finish to Darby Allin vs Jungle Boy? Jungle Boy had the match won before Allin raked Jungle Boy’s face and won with the Last Supper.
[SA] Darby Allin told Jungle Boy that he had better not even show up on Wednesday night if he was going to show up with a smile on his face. Darby promised Jungle Boy a down and dirty, gritty fight, and that’s just what Allin gave him. And he brought out something new in the Hollywood kid: JB has won singles matches, but he’s never dominated the offense of one before. But he should know better than most that controlling the offense of a match doesn’t guarantee victory.
[GFE] I do agree with Sergei’s assessment. But I would warn AEW that Darby changing the tide of a match using dirty tactics two weeks in a row is not wise. Regardless of whether it’s “legal”, we as fans still see it as cheating. Darby is grittier than your general babyface like Jungle Boy, for example. But exploiting these tactics too often will just make Darby unlikeable to the majority of the audience. Just let him do what he does best, these details simply aren’t necessary. But here and there this isn’t detrimental and add a grittiness to Darby.
On another note, I’ve seen some people suggest that Darby could turn heel in the future. Not immediately, but if that is planting seeds for a gradual shift in character then that is genuinely brilliant. Time will tell though, and from a business perspective I’m not sure how wise that’d be. I desperately want a darker Darby though, face or heel, because currently I find him a little stale.
11) Who do you see taking the TNT championship from Darby Allin? Ethan Page, Scorpio Sky, Lance Archer, Miro or someone else?
[AB] A lot of people are saying it will be Ethan Page and considering him and Sky have been attacking him and they have a history in the Indies there is a very strong story for that to happen, However Miro needs it more this new direction has fans saying Finally and AEW should capitalise on that unless they plan on giving him a shot against Kenny. The good thing is that it’s wide open and there are many options. However crazy idea week after Blood and Guts have MJF win it.
[GFE] I see it being Miro at this point. I have a faint feeling they may align Lance Archer with Sting and Darby Allin which would basically rule him out. Sky has had his shot and it feels too soon for Page so Miro is the remaining obvious option.
Alternatively, if AEW want to take me up on my 'TNT Trios Championships' plan then you could make MJF the new TNT champion, face of the network, with Spears and FTR as the TNT trios champions.
This scenario would leave room open for Cody Rhodes to challenge MJF again for 'his' championship. A rematch Cody hinted at just after Full Gear in the same promo Jade Cargill appeared. AEW don't forget these details.
Really though, the strength of AEW is I'd be happy with a host of names. Any of those I've mentioned above, any of Death Triangle, Ricky Starks, Frankie Kazarian (post Double or Nothing after beating Christopher Daniels), Sammy Guevara or Wardlow. The roster is stacked.
[SA] If MJF goes after any title besides the World title, I will eat my words. Very few competitors who wouldn’t see the TNT title as below their level could beat Darby. Miro tops that list and it’s looking more and more like that’s where they are headed. Darby being choked out unconscious in the Game Over will be fantastic heat for Miro.